P.O. Box 1106
Taylor, MI 48180.
Review By Stephen Fishbein
Mention of YEMACY B/4 in the February 1989 Antic review of the Star NX-1000 Rainbow printer prompted me to order a copy of this color printing utility from Electronical Software. With the latest improvements in this handy program, as well as availability of color printers at much lower prices than ever before, YEMACY B/4 has become an essential program for color printing.
The original YEMACY program was released in 1986. It permitted four color printing on ordinary printers by changing ribbons and re-positioning the paper. The method provided excellent printouts as long as the user was careful in lining up the paper for each additional printer pass.
YEMACY B/4 was later released for use with the Epson JX-80 and compatible color printers such as the Rainbow 1000. That version provided an excellent printout as well as several utilities.
However, limited color printer sales resulted in little interest in YEMACY B/4 and Electronical Software had actually closed down. Then the Antic review of the NX-1000 Rainbow created a new interest in color printer dumps and encouraged programmer Michael Clayton to add major improvements which were recently completed.
Clayton concluded that existing four-color ribbons failed to print true colors. Whether it was lack of ink on the ribbons or the limited drying time allowed before additional colors were added, Clayton's solution was to allow up to nine additional print passes per color. In most cases two or three passes will provide very satisfactory coloring. The resulting printouts feature deep, rich colors, instead of the pale, washed-out look of single-pass prints.
The most recent revision of YEMACY B/4 also includes a "poster" program. Color pictures may now be enlarged two or three times and printed out on as many as nine sheets.
Several utilities have also been added since the original YEMACY program was released three years ago. A text editor makes it possible to add text to graphics, using any of the nine-sector Atari fonts. You can design and print borders around your YEMACY prints, color data may be changed and the print palette may be customized. Most important, a utility is included to convert graphics to the widely used Micro-Painter format. The program and files now come on three disks, including the original YEMACY program.
RAMdrive + XE-GM2,
(For Atari XEGS)
Innovative Concepts 31172 Shawn Drive
Warren, MI 48093
Review by Matthew Rawliff
RAMdrive + XE-GM2 ($34.95) is the sequel to the XE-GM1, reviewed in the August 1988 Antic. The XE-GM2 boosts the Atari XE Game System's 64K memory to a full 192K, enough bytes to copy a single-sided double density disk (SS/DD) in a single pass. This extra memory is ideal for user group library managers who need to make a lot of disk copies at a meeting in a short period of time.
This extra RAM is automatically recognized by PaperClip II and the newer versions of SynCalc and SynFile+.
This memory upgrade kit comes with two 41464 dynamic RAM chips (64K by 4 bits wide), a custom integrated circuit, switch, resistor, and hook-up wire. The documentation assumes that you have already installed the XE-GM1 If not, you should order both kits at the same time to upgrade the XEGS to a full 192K in one hardware hacking session.
Installing the XE-GM2 upgrade is a straightforward process requiring 17 steps. The new RAM chips must be soldered piggy-back on the XE-GM1 chips, which are on top of the original pair. This stack fits snugly in the case when the XEGS is reassembled. A 256K upgrade probably would not fit.
If you have the XE-GM1 upgrade already in place, adding the XE-GM2 is very simple. Only one wire must be removed from the first upgrade to make room. I had no problems with the installation, following the step-by-step instructions to the letter. With the proper tools as described in the instructions, this upgrade should take about an hour to complete.
The "select line" that enables this additional 64K of RAM is used in the XEGS to control Missile Command. An optional switch may be wired into the project to allow use of the game. In this mode your XEGS has only 128K of RAM available. But if you are playing Missile Command the extra RAM is idle anyway. I installed the switch with no complications.
The upgrade is accompanied by a very nice RAMdisk and memory test utility disk. A brief overview of the files accompanies the instructions. RAMdisk handlers for a disk designation of D2: through D7: are included, as well as Atari's D8: handler for DOS 2.5.
Documentation files, suitably formatted for copying to the printer, are included to help you get the most out of your 192K of RAM with SpartaDOS, MYDOS, and AtariWriter Plus. A sector copy utility called MyCopyR!, version 2.1, rounds out the utility package. This program can duplicate single, enhanced, or double-density disks in a single pass on a 192K equipped XEGS.
One minor problem occurs when all that RAM is added to an XEGS. When you turn the computer off and then on again quickly, the XEGS may fail to reboot. The extra RAM tends to retain its memory, preventing the XEGS from cold starting as expected.
To get around this problem, SpartaDOS users may simply issue the COLD command. Unfortunately, this doesn't work if the computer locks up or if you are using certain applications software. When you must wait 10 to 20 seconds between turning the computer off and on again to get a reliable reboot on the XEGS, these RAM upgrades can get a bit frustrating.
Innovative Concepts has come to the rescue with their RAM-Aid ($19.95). This device has been available for the 800XL and 130XE computers for a while. The instructions have been expanded to cover installation in the XEGS. The drawings for the XE-GM2 upgrade also demonstrate Ram-Aid connections.
This project will add only a few minutes to your RAM upgrade time. There are a few wires, a very small circuit, and a red pushbutton to hook up. A 1/4 inch hole must be drilled in the side of the XEGS, above the joystick ports, for the RAM-Aid reset button. I had no problems getting it installed, following the concise 12-step instructions.
Operation is quite simple. While pressing the RAM-Aid button, you press and release the [RESET] console key. Then release the RAM Aid button to get a picture-perfect cold start, every time.
I did find that, when in the "128K mode", RAM-Aid had a minor problem. Mark Elliott of Innovative Concepts explained that there was a conflict with the operating system software that handles the [RESET] key, Missile Command, and the self test software. I did find that power cycling right after the unsuccessful restart with Ram-Aid would generally result in a proper cold start. Normally the XE-GM2 switch will be in the 192K mode, where the Ram Aid functions properly.
Ram Aid and the SpartaDOS X cartridge do not cooperate well. When the Ram-Aid reset is initiated, it seems that the SpartaDOS X cartridge becomes completely disabled, and the disk-based DOS will boot.
SpartaDOS X is a very sophisticated "smart" bank-switching cattridge, but seems to become disabled by certain software when [RESET] is pressed. I have had this problem with quite a few programs that do not exit gracefully to DOS. This seems to be associated with SpartaDOS X and not Ram-Aid. If you are a SpartaDOS X user, you may find using the [RESET] key and the SpartaDOS X "COLD" command to be more reliable.
The XE-GM1, XE-GM2, and RAMAid upgrades have given my XE Game System more power than an Atari 130XE. The instructions are well-written, and the memory test and RAMdisk utilities put that new memory to work right away. But remember, you are on your own when "hacking hardware". Open the XEGS and start soldering, and your six-month Atari warranty is null and void. But if you are up to the challenge, innovative Concepts has the products to pump up the power of your Atari XEGS.
P.O.S. NET SYSTEM
P.O. Box 4675
Federal Way, WA 98003
CompuServe ID: 71310,605
$189, 128K disk
Review by Matthew Ratcliff
P.O.S. Net stands for Point of Sale Network, a computer-based sales system designed to help run a small business by combining elements of a cash register with inventory and accounting. The complete P.O.S. Net package ($189) includes two software products and a bar code reader for data entry. However, the elements of the package are available in various combinations from manufacturer Scot McGowan's Xenia Research.
In its simplest $69 form, P.O.S. can be used as a cash register. One of the pins on an Atari joystick port can be used with the software to control a cash drawer that's also available from Xenia Research.
We were not able to fully set up a business to test run the software in depth, but the demonstration program that came with our review copy was quite impressive. The documentation is a little difficult to follow, presented in a set of five small booklets. A single volume with table of contents and index would have been preferable.
The software includes a preconfigured database with fields for a four-digit item number, product description, quantity, and cost per item. Sales tax may be specified by the user, after which it is calculated automatically for all sales. Some items may be designated as tax-free, such as newspapers or medicine. Tax laws vary from state to state, and the ability to control this automatically from P.O.S. Net is a very useful feature.
If you do not recall an item's product number, P.O.S. Net will search its database for the name you specify. After the sale, quantity is automatically updated.
With the bar code handler/reader you can print your own descriptive labels for your products along with a bar code and product number. Then you just run the bar code reader across the label to enter the sale in an instant. I found that the bar code reader worked quite well, even on bar codes made with a faded printer ribbon.
An Atari CX-85 keypad comes with the package. It serves to enhance the speed of data entry, and also as copy protection for the software. You can back up the program disks, but P.O. S. Net will not run unless the keypad is plugged into the machine.
The customer's name, address, and phone may also be entered as part of the sale. The customer information is not part of the database, however.
A report generator is available from the management menu. Here all outof-stock or low-stock items may be listed or printed, resulting in a complete order summary. The report generator may also be used to print a catalog of your product line, by item number or alphabetized item names.
The reports may be used to track the sales rate of a particular item or even the sales performance of an employee, since an employee number may be associated with each sale if desired. These reports are protected by a security code access, so the boss can protect sensitive data.
P.O.S. Net supports up to seven additional terminals which are connected to the host computer through the Micronet adapter from Supra (not included with P.O.S. Net). This box allows multiple Atari computers to share the same set of peripherals automatically (no manual switching required).
The XR-100 software enables you to develop your own applications with the bar code reader. Extensive BASIC program examples are provided in the manual.
The XR-100 software loads a special handler into the K: device driver of your computer. It constantly monitors the bar code reader in joystick port 1. When the reader is passed over a "modified code 39" bar code, the software deciphers the black stripes into their proper values.
This data is then presented to the computer as if it were typed from the keyboard. This allows you to use the bar code for data entry at any place a program expects keyboard input from the K: device. The codes can be from one to four digits (or characters) long.
However, this device cannot read UPC (universal price code) symbols like those you find on all your groceries. The UPC code format is far more complicated to read than the "modified code 39". The bar code reader has a simple LED for data detection, while grocery store scanners must use lasers for reading.
What good is the XR-100 software and bar code reader? It can be used to help organize just about any collection. You could write a program to maintain a database of a book or record collection, for example Xenia Research provides a Contest Bar Code program with the XR-100 package. Bar codes may be printed as "tickets" for a contest entry, for your user group's monthly door prize, for example. The contestants have their bar codes read on the way out of the meeting, and the winner will be detected automatically.
The bar code reader that came with P.O.S. Net is made by Radio Shack. The part number is 26-1183. It was made for the Tandy Model 102 laptop computer. Its connector is a DB9 joystick type, compatible with the Atari 8-bit. If you purchase a bar code reader from Xenia, it comes preconfigured for the Atari.
However, you may wish to purchase your own bar code reader from Radio, Shack. Some wires must be moved, but the connector is easily disassembled so the black wire can be moved to ground, pin 8. The red wire goes to +5 volts, pin 7. The white wire goes to the trigger input, pin 6.
P.O.S. Net requires a lot of Atari power to run. It seems well-suited to a small business operation. The user interface is very well done, for all components of the software. The documentation is rather brief, and it does seem to concentrate more on the technical aspects than the basics of operation. If this specific application is not for you, then the XR-100 package will provide the tools to create your own custom bar code application.
128K or larger XL/XE computer (64K XL/XE computer may be used as terminal 2-8)
Supra Micronet, if more than one terminal is desired
Double density disk drive (XF551 or doubled density 1050)
Optional 1020 printer
XR-100 & BAR CODE REQUIREMENTS:
48K Atari computer
Atari 810, 1050, or XF551 disk drive
P.O.S. Net software $69
XR-100 software & manuals $69
P.O.S. Net, bar code handler $99
P.O.S. Net, bar code handler, XR-100 software & manuals $125
XR-100 software & manuals, barcode reader $179
P.O.S. Net, barcode handler/reader, XR-100 software & manuals $189
No Frills Software
800 East 23rd Street
Kearney, NE 68847
$21.95, 48K disk
Reviewed by Chester Cox
Atarians have so many choices when it comes to printing utilities - and we're still not satisfied. We want to use Print Shop icons in Print Power or Newsroom. News Station lets us use KoalaPad or Print Shop pictures, but we want to include Print Power or Newsroom pictures also. Newsroom Converter in the December 1988 Antic lets us put Graphics 8 or Print Shop pictures in Newsroom, but it still doesn't go far enough.
The folks at No Frills Software evidently felt the same. The Converter by Chris Wareham connects Newsroom with Print Shop with Print Power with AwardWare. In so doing, it also provides utilities which the original programs lack.
Primarily, the Converter will read pictures (Let's call them all pictures, and dispense with "icons," "clip-art," or what have you.) from Print Shop, Print Power, or AwardWare, and saves it in either Newsroom photo, AwardWare graphic, or AwardWare seal format.
It will permit you to format a disk in Newsroom format if you have a 1050 or compatible drive. It'll let you view the directory of any of the above-mentioned formats, and let you view the pictures on the disks. It will even let you use more than one drive - an obvious requirement which too many programs omit.
For Print Power users, the Converter opens up a large range of possibilities. The Converter will convert AwardWare graphics or seals (those little pictures) quickly, as well as convert Print Shop icons, to Print Power. Even better, the Converter's editing features permit us to finally create our own Print Power pictures, or to edit existing ones. Print Shop owners might find the editing features useful - it's more powerful than Print Shop's own drawing feature.
Fortunately, the Converter is extremely easy to use. I say "fortunately" because the documentation is extremely difficult to read. When they call themselves "No Frills," they aren't joking. The documentation is faded photocopying. No Frills offers extremely low prices (their disks start at $2) and large royalty percentages to their authors - one tradeoff is inexpensive manuals.
No Frills also offers many, many disks of Print Shop graphics, fonts, and borders. My newsletters, notices, and signs have become locally famous around the Denver area. This is especially remarkable when I reveal that my ability to draw a straight line is nil.
Does the Converter do everything? Not quite. I still want to convert some Newsroom pictures to Print Power or Print Shop, and would like to convert Print Power to Print Shop icons easily. The freedom this would allow me when using News Station (which accepts Koala pictures and Print Shop icons) would be thrilling. No Frills anticipates a "Converter Companion" in February which will enable exactly these options, so it's merely a matter of waiting.
With the Converter, many of my complaints about Newsroom fall by the wayside. You now can produce drawings far superior to any of Springboard's Clip Art disks. And the one failure of Print Power is overcome - we can draw Print Power or AwardWare pictures quickly and simply, or use a Print Shop drawing program then convert.
Any program which did any one of the above deeds would be considered a good buy at $ 20. This is a bargain at a "No Frills" price.
PS USER'S UTILITY DISK
No Frills Software
800 East 23rd Street
Kearney, NE 68847
$31.95, 48K disk
Reviewed by Chester Cox
There are several public domain programs for users of Broderbund's classic Print Shop software. But nothing combines so many simple-to-use utilities like No Frills Software's new PS Users Utility Disk.
This disk lets you view all your Print Shop icons, catalog them in alphabetical order and print them 70 to a page. It will let you do the same thing with borders and fonts. You can transfer icons from disk to disk as quickly as any DOS would a normal tile. You might even consider this a quick DOS for Print Shop, since in addition to all the above the Utility Disk will also delete, undelete and rename icons.
More? You bet! The disk has utilities to print coupons or bookmarks with Print Shop icons, borders, and fonts - or using those good old nine-sector fonts. Using those same icons, borders, etc., we can create hundreds of labels and auto-number them. I just finished over 200 labels for a local doctor's mailing list using this utility. The auto-numbering feature kept me from having to use a separate database.
It also helped that PS Users' Utility Disk let me select the size of label, because these were non-standard labels.
The manual is No Frills' usual photocopied cheapie, but it's complete and conversational. Pay close attention to the Addendum. It lets you know that you can use two of eight drives at once, and that you can save your design even after printing. And the company's reputation for friendliness continues with their offer to instruct any person with a non-standard printer how to use control codes. (SASE required.)
I use Print Shop icons on a regular basis and make labels for friends at least once a month. To me, this utility disk is worth the $31.95 price for its friendly interface alone. It really is easier to use than Print Shop itself.
The program also converts icons to PS Companion format (which most icon-using programs want), while cataloging, a bonus I never thought I'd find as handy as I now do. It all depends on your use of icons.
If you use Print Shop icons with other programs, you'll want this program. If you use PS borders or fonts, you need this program. Each Atari user can make a significant difference by supporting the really useful 8-bit products which come our way. The PS User's Utility Disk is one such product. A